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Could Fiers ignite Brewers?

August 14, 2014

What Mike Fiers did Thursday afternoon was something special.

In striking out 14 Cubs batters over six innings, the Brewers’ right-hander joined an exclusive club that previously had only three members: Ben Sheets, Yovani Gallardo and Moose Haas.

No other pitchers in club history have recorded 14 or more strikeouts in a single start.

Fiers also joined a list of seven pitchers that have struck out at least 14 batters in no more than six innings. That list includes flamethrowers such as Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood, Max Scherzer and Nolan Ryan. And now Fiers.

Look up the list of other pitchers to fan 14 batters in a game this season and you’ll find Fiers some more impressive company: Scherzer, Jose Fernandez, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Jon Lester.

So what this mean for the Brewers and their dazzling 29-year-old right-hander?

Hopefully, Fiers can ignite a much-needed spark for the first-place club.

It’s not often a first-place team — and one that’s been there the entire season — is in need so much help, but the Brewers seem at this point to be leading the National League Central based less on what they’re doing and more on what they’re opponents aren’t doing. That is, winning.

Before the Brewers’ won Thursday afternoon, the top four teams in the division all were 5-5 over the last 10 games. Only the Cubs had won more than they lost, at 6-4.

The inability of the Pirates and Cardinals — and the Reds, who have dropped off dramatically — to take advantage of the stagnancy has allowed the Crew to maintain its slim lead atop the division.

But now Fiers has returned and turned in as dominant a two-start stretch as any Brewers starter this season.

He outdueled Zack Greinke in his return, tossing eight innings of three-hit ball while holding the Dodgers to just one run. But that wasn’t enough, apparently.

Fiers one-upped himself, tossing six shutout innings Thursday while striking out 14 batters. Only Anthony Rizzo avoided striking out against Fiers, while Rizzo and Starlin Castro were the only Cubs with hits off the right-hander.

Combined, Fiers has given up one run on six hits over 14 innings in two wins, with 19 strikeouts.

That’s obviously an unsustainable pace.

But Fiers’ performance Thursday is the type that could spark a hot streak. And the Brewers need it to.

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